After being pulled over for suspicion of DUI, one of the most common ways that a law enforcement officer will determine whether a subject is actually intoxicated is through the administration of field sobriety tests. Unfortunately, while these are used consistently throughout the nation, they are not completely reliable. In fact, even the most reliable of tests fall short of perfect and, worse, many officers lack proper training or will use tests that are not even standardized. This can lead to poor performance by even sober drivers.
To help with erratic and inconsistent field sobriety tests, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standardized three tests that they believe are the most accurate when administered correctly. These three tests compose what is known as The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). The NHTSA also developed and makes formal training available so that law enforcement officers are better able to detect intoxication.
Below, we explain the battery of tests administered under the SFST:
The NHTSA also requires that these tests be performed under very strict conditions. This includes placing the subject on dry, hard, level, and non-slippery surface, with enough room to complete the test. There also needs to be adequate amounts of light so that the subject can see the ground and no disruptive noise. When used together, and done correctly, the SFST is shown to be accurate 91 percent of the time. Other than the SFST, law enforcement officers may administer non-standardized field sobriety tests, such as the hand pat test, finger-to-nose, finger count, and other. Since these tests have not been standardized and researched by the NHTSA, they are even less reliable.
Unfortunately, field sobriety tests are designed for you to fail; they are not there to help prove your innocence-rather, your guilt. These tests, however, are not bulletproof and even if you were told that you failed, it does not mean that you will automatically be convicted for drinking and driving; these have many weaknesses that can be contested by a good Palm Springs criminal defense lawyer. For example, the subject may have a physical or mental impairment that makes them incapable of passing even when sober, such as being overweight, elderly, sick, having inner ear problems, brain damage, or being particularly susceptible to nerves. Other weaknesses that may be attacked include the officer moving instead of remaining motionless, the subject wearing unsuitable attire (such as high heels), the test being done in poor environmental conditions, the officer administering non-standardized tests, or the instructions being given incorrectly.
If you have been arrested for drunk driving, turn to the Law Office of Joseph T. Rhea. With extensive local experience, he has been able to help countless individuals to protect their legal rights after a DUI arrest, and has been recognized for his work. For example, Palm Springs lawyer Rhea was named top DUI lawyer in the Coachella Valley by Palm Springs Life Magazine every year since 2010.
If you are looking for someone who will stand up and fight for you, you need not look any further. Contact the Law Office of Joseph T. Rhea today to get an award-winning attorney on your side.
“Mr. Rhea was extremely knowledgeable which, without a doubt, was the reason the Judge dismissed my case without any fines, probation, etc. Additionally, his vast knowledge helped lay out all the scenarios which helped relieve my anxieties. He was extremely prompt and reliable which made working with him a pleasure. I would highly recommend Mr. Rhea’s services to anyone and everyone.” – Former Federal Drug Possession Client